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Towards a Grand Compromise

From: Jonathan Mayer <jmayer@stanford.edu>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2012 05:06:29 -0700
To: public-tracking@w3.org
Message-ID: <327748BC6A184F5A9CCAF0047126C1F2@gmail.com>
This group has made tremendous progress.  As we enter our second year and look forward to our fifth meeting, we can celebrate achieving hard-won consensus on many difficult topics. 

It's time to complete our task.  We have given shape to the several issues at the center of Do Not Track policy, but we have not reached agreement on how to resolve them.  Those issues are, in brief:

1) May a user agent enable Do Not Track by default?

2) May a website share its information with corporate affiliates?

3) May a third-party website continue to set tracking cookies (or use an equivalent technology for collecting a user's browsing history)?

Peter Eckersley (EFF), Tom Lowenthal (Mozilla), and I (Stanford) have iterated on a comprehensive compromise proposal that addresses these issues.  The text draws extensively on prior drafts from multiple constituencies.  It would, in short:

1) Require explicit consent for enabling Do Not Track.

2) Allow affiliate information sharing.

3) Prohibit tracking cookies.

We have received valuable feedback from a number of participant viewpoints, including browser vendors, advertising companies, analytics services, social networks, policymakers, consumer groups, and researchers.  Out of respect for the candid nature of those ongoing conversations, we leave it to stakeholders to volunteer their contributions to and views on this proposal.

As you review the draft, please recognize that it is a compromise proposal.  The document is not a retread of well-worn positions; it reflects extraordinarily painful cuts for privacy-leaning stakeholders, including complete concessions on two of the three central issues.  Some participants have already indicated that they believe the proposal goes too far and are unwilling to support it.

We would ask all stakeholders to approach the document with a collegial spirit.  I can assure you now: there will be components of the proposal that you will not like.  Some industry and advocacy participants will flatly reject it.  But when everyone in the center of the group is just a bit unhappy, I think we've found our consensus.


Received on Wednesday, 6 June 2012 12:07:07 UTC

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